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Summary of The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (Part 3)

June 28th, 2010

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In this setting, a member was recognized to speak for only five minutes with debate equally divided between the proponents and opponents of the bill and controlled by a presiding officer chosen by the Speaker. On May 17, 2001 the Speaker designated the Honorable Doc Hastings as this such presiding officer, and the majority floor manager, John A. Boehner, opened with a prepared statement detailing the purpose of the legislation. Overall throughout these proceedings, twenty-seven amendments were introduced off of the Rules Committee report, five of which failed by record vote, twelve passed by voice vote, and ten passed by record vote. Voice votes in this legislative process most often occur when a floor manager has no objections to the amendment, while a controversial vote will be conducted under recorded vote to obtain a precise ruling. The amendments as introduced to the floor were relatively narrow, contradicting the statement that more often in modern politics to obtain a particular outcome “[A] rule gives members a choice among comprehensive substitutes but bars votes on narrow amendments, to focus the debate on alternative approaches, on the big choices rather than the picky details,” (Sinclair 24). The most difficult challenge presented to the legislation occurred when Republican Rep. Peter Hoekstra attempted to expunge annual testing from the bill, and although receiving heavy support from conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats, the amendment was ultimately rejected as defeat was blamed on intense lobbying by White House officials in another behind-the-scenes maneuver similar to those mentioned prior (Austin). After general debate and amending have been resolved, the Committee of the Whole rises and reports back to the house, where amendments must again be voted on and approved by the House. At this stage, on May 23, 2001, Representative Owens moved to recommit the amended bill with instructions to the Education and Labor Committee in an effort to add money to renovate schools and reduce class size by hiring more teachers, but this proposal was rejected (Austin). The final version of H. R. 1 was passed by a recorded vote of 384-45 on May 23, 2001 with a total of thirty-four Republicans, ten Democrats, and one Independent voting against the package. Once the legislation was passed, a motion to reconsider was made and laid upon the table on May 23rd at 7:24pm to ensure that the issue could not be reopened, and from here, the legislation was then sent to the Senate.

On May 25, 2001 the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 was received in Senate, read twice, and placed on the Senate Legislation Calendar under General Orders. The Majority leader, by motion as specified by Sinclair, removed the legislation to be considered from the calendar, and the measure was laid before the Senate floor on June 14, 2001. In this instance, legislation reported by the Senate committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions had already approved a seven year reauthorization bill (S1-S. Rept. 107-7) in committee which had included Bush’s provisions to test students in grades three through eight in reading and math, a companion to the House-passed bill H. R. 1 and thus allowed for bypass of committee referral, a frequent method of bringing legislation forward more quickly according to Sinclair’s description of the new legislative process. However, the modified measures essential to S. 1 as reported out of committee were not exactly congruent to H. R. 1 as sent out by the House, and therefore, many provisions were made to the House-born bill before full Senate approval could be accomplished. According to Austin, “despite bipartisan spirit, sharp differences emerged between Democrats and Republicans over how much leeway to give states in spending federal money and how many federal education programs should be consolidated,” (8 -3) both important discrepancies that surfaced between the Senate and House version of this bill. During the period in which the bill was being debated on the Senate floor, Senator James Vermont, Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the measure’s flood manager, quit the Republican party and thus shift control in the Senate to the Democrats and making Senator Edward Kennedy the new chairman (Austin). As a result of anticipation by Bush and congressional Republicans of a hard fought series of negotiations following this transition in majority leadership, the administration “opened a back channel” and ranking Republican Senators began meeting with centrist Democrats including Joseph Lieberman and Evan Bayh, yet another example of secretive negotiations that have increased in frequency in recent congresses (Austin). After approximately six weeks of floor debate, the Senate passed the No Child Left Behind legislation on June 14, 2001 by a vote of 91-8 after submitting the amended version for its own bill. Five days later, the measure was amended by the Senate by unanimous consent based on the principle that the Senate is not a majority-rule chamber like the House after passage. No holds as an obstacle frequently utilized by a more modern political process as described by Sinclair were enacted, and thus, the Senate was able to do this act of business as with many others by unanimous consent, “both an acknowledgement and an augmentation of the power of senators as individuals” as determined by Sinclair (45). As in this case, unanimous consent agreements have become increasingly individualized pertaining to a specific bill to accommodate individual senator’s demands in the modernized legislative process. Also according to Sinclair, major legislation is particularly likely to encounter an extended debate-related problem, such as a hold or filibuster, in recent decades; however, this did not occur with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Additionally, it is proposed in Unorthodox Lawmaking that in major legislation, a high number of amendments are introduced and voted on by the recorded method, although such actions did not occur in this bill.

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